11 June 2014

Spanish Congress of Deputies passes abdication bill

The Spanish lower house, the Congress of Deputies, processed the abdication draft bill today. Some representatives used the event to mark their opposition to the monarchical form of government, but as the major parties voted in favour of the bill, everything went as expected.

For the record, 299 representatives were in favour, while 19 voted against. In addition there were 23 abstentions.

The relevant documents:
Information in English (provided earlier):
Press release from Prime Minister (President of the Government) Mariano Rajoy
The text of the abdication bill is quite simple:
Sole Article. Abdication of HM King Juan Carlos I de Borbón.
  1. HM King Juan Carlos I de Borbón abdicates the Spanish Crown.
  2. The abdication will become effective as from the entry into force of this Constitutional Law.
Sole final provision. Entry into force.
This Law shall come into force as from the date of its publication in the Official State Gazette.*
The bill will now move on to the Senate, where it will be processed on Tuesday 17 June 2014 at 4 p.m. The following day it is expected that King Juan Carlos will sanction and promulgate the abdication law in accordance with the Constitution Article 62. But as the text of the bill suggests, the law will not come into force until the date of its publication in the Official State Gazette.* Nothing is official yet, but it seems that Felipe will take the oath on Thursday 19 June 2014.

According to El Pais (3 June 2014), "The exact date when the law goes into effect is set to coincide with the proclamation of the new monarch, as there can be no transitional period. In the meantime, “the king continues to be the king to all effects and purposes,” said an expert in royal affairs."

I find this claim a bit odd. If Juan Carlos had died in his sleep still being the king, there would most certainly have been a transitional period, so why should there be a difference when the king abdicates and becomes "constitutionally dead"?

We will surely obtain more information as we get closer to the main events next week.

*Postscript 23 June 2014: It should be added that I based the translation of the abdication act on the draft bill published by the Government on 3 June 2014, where the text of the final provision said «This Law shall come into force as from the date of its publication in the Official State Gazette".» In the translation at the Royal Court’s website the final provision reads «This organic law shall take effect when it is published in the "Official State Gazette".» The latter translation was made available after the act was published in BOE.

There is obviously a minor, but still significant, difference between the two translations. The former translation would mean that the then Prince of Asturias became king (as Felipe VI) at midnight on 19 June regardless of when the act was published that day, while the latter clearly says that the succession started from the time of publication. Not much difference in time, though, as the act was published two minutes after midnight.

Even though my understanding of Spanish is limited, it seems to me that the translation at the Royal Court’s website is more accurate. The draft bill’s final provision in Spanish said that «La presente Ley entrará en vigor en el momento de su publicación en el Boletín Oficial del Estado".», while the published act read «La presente ley orgánica entrará en vigor en el momento de su publicación en el «Boletín Oficial del Estado». » The only difference is that the word «orgánica» was added during the process.

Updated on Wednesday 11 June 2014 at 22.35 (press release from La Moncloa added), last time on Monday 23 June 2014 at 22.20 (postscript added).

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